29 Chandler

1914 Willoughby Sedan on 1920 Chandler chassis

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Posted (edited)

This sedan body was made by the Willoughby Company of Utica, New York around 1914 for some of the better known “non-classic” makes including Nash, Studebaker, and Chandler. According to a dealer promoting this sedan “The bodies were built to order by the Willoughby Company, considered among the best custom body builders of the country,” and that “cost was not taken into consideration.” 

This is probably the last of the Willoughby sedans of this type left. The body sits on a 1920 Chandler chassis, which includes all suspension and brake components, driveline from the transmission back. Wood frame surrounded by an all aluminum body. With this project you be able to tour year-round, out of the elements. 

 

New lower price....

Asking $4,500 OBO. Located in Southern California

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Edited by 29 Chandler (see edit history)

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I have in my archives the WiIloughby Body Company factory photograph albums ( ca. 1920-25)  that were part of Francis Willoughby's personal reference library and are hand signed by him as such. In this era Willoughby was building a lot of enclosed coachwork ( sedans) for  Chandler, Cole, and to a certain extent Marmon. They would later build the boat tail sport coupe bodies that were mounted on the series 11 Franklin chassis of the 1925-26 era. Very high class and well constructed coach work . Willoughby did have some 'contract work' to build enclosed coachwork in limited runs ( my guess is 15-20 bodies at a time) for several independent vehicle manufacturers in the era right after WWI , since it was more economical for an established  body builder to do this then for a car factory to set up a production area of skilled craftsman to construct coachwork.. Keep in mind most body styles in this era were open not enclosed, which took a lot more effort and labor to construct to a quality level and design .

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Walt G I think we communicated about this sedan when I found your article online  "Non-Classic Customs". I was very excited to find some information about these sedan bodies in your article. Here's a link for anyone who wants to learn more:  Non-Classic Customs

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Yes, we did have some e mail conversations. A lot has gone on in 5 years since that happened. Thank you so much  for linking my column/article ( I am not one to mention to anyone "hey read what I wrote about it".) Just not my nature to 'wave flags' about what I do with a 'hey look at me, ain't I important ' attitude. That is totally against what I enjoy doing and sharing with everyone for the past 40+ years. My great personal pleasure is in recognizing the people, companies, etc. that were responsible for designing , creating and making the vehicles that we now love and make us happy and proud to have or see.

Walt Gosden

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Interesting project. Im curious how you were able to identify this body to be pre 1916 and if that dating would stand if it was questioned by  HCCA ? Thank you, Mike

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Hi Mike,

 

Thank you for your question and it's a good one that may not be fully answered by me. It was be real easy if there were a body tag or number that I could cross-reference. I came to this conclusion, "hypothesis" if you will, through my research of the car. Walt's article was a key piece in that research. When first getting the sedan I spent some time cleaning and looking for further clues to its identity. After taking out the rear seat I discovered a small paper tag tucked in between one of the wooden ribs and the aluminum body. At the top of the tag were the words "Body No." written in pencil looked to be the date that was partially visible, but not enough to show the year. There was also a hand written number that might have been four digits long but not clear enough to read. Sadly once the body tag was removed from its hiding place, oxidation started to take its toll on the evidence. While the words Body No. are still visable the pencil markings are no longer able to be read. True story I could not make this up.   

 

I know that Chandler did not make their own bodies until 1915 and they looked quite different than what we have here. I have seen pictures of all newer sedan bodies for Chandler and they do not match at all. No other 1915 or earlier Chandler sedans survive according to the Chandler clubs register. 

 

The door style being rather curvaceous is near identical to our 1914 Chandler model 15. The door handles match what was on the 1913 Chandler model 13, though these were a common style on more formal cars of the period.

 

The roof line with the added sun visor is a key styling queue that Willoughby did. I found this picture from 1914 taken at Ocean Beach near San Fransisco that looks just like the sedan body I have, but another chassis. This would be consistent with the research that Walt did.

 

I am an active member of the HCCA here in Southern California and have had several of our members look it over and most agree with the conclusion I have come to. The HCCA does not have a requirement to pinpoint a body as many do not have a number on them. Model Ts go by their engine number. Our 1914 Chandler touring like many other cars had a number plate that is affixed to the side of the engine.

 

I've heard the story several times that that body was sometimes kept by the owner and put on a newer or better chassis after the old one wore out. This might explain the six year newer chassis the body now sits on. In 1920 there was nothing like this left without going in for a fully coach built body.

 

I would love to see this put back on the road someday, but I have finally come to the realization that it will not be by me. Too many other projects and not enough room. I hope someone will find this a project worth their time and effort and take it on.

 

Let me know if you have more questions.

 

1914 Sedan-Cliff House.jpg

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Do you have any idea how it came to be on a newer chassis? Was this a whole finished car that ran st some point in history, or is it just sitting on that 1920 chassis?

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The story I have been told by the previous family was that the car came into their repair shop here in Southern California many years ago for a repair by a traveling salesman. The salesman dropped the car off and walked home. The car was repaired and the shop waited for the owner to return and claim his car and pay the $50 repair bill. The sedan was placed at the edge of their lot while they waited for the owner to return. After a while with no word from the anonymous owner, they moved the sedan to a building at the back of their property for "temporary storage".

 

Fast forward (maybe a few years I never got a clear timeline) a young man comes into the shop holding a repair bill for $50 for repair of an antique car. The recipt had no details about what car was worked on or details about the shop. The young man was simply canvassing the shops near his dad's house looking for the car his dad owned. It seems his father died crossing the street on his way home from dropping the car off. The shop told the young man the car was in back and could be his after payment of the bill. The young man had no need for the car and left it with the shop where it remained hidden from the world until 2015 when the shop and estate were being closed.

 

The previous owners took the engine, lights, and other items out and they were either sold or lost over the years. What we have today is a great starting point, but not a complete car.

 

The 1920 update added front and rear exhaust heaters to the sedan. A windshield wiper, and a "Pullman" style front seat that folds flat with the rear seat to make a rather large bed that the traveling salesman must have used many times.

 

The attached picture was found by the previous owner at a garage sale. The sale was in his neighborhood. The photo was on a postcard owned by the salesman's family. It was a lucky find and the only picture I have of the car in its complete state. Sadly the image I have is the only copy I have as the picture that was promised to me was never delivered.I can confirm this is a picture of the car as the metal box on the back was still on the car when we took ownership. 

1920 sedan.jpg

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Very interesting.   In late 1911 -1913, Willoughby made a body for Cole that is very similar.  It was called the London Limo.  None of these cars survive today.  If I had the restoration skills and the amount of funds it would take, I know of a 1912 Cole chassis.....  image.png.88060f1ee019efdceb26a6bd38fd23b0.png

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Thank you for sharing this. I really appreciate you sharing an example of another body made by this coach builder.

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On ‎6‎/‎14‎/‎2019 at 2:26 PM, mikewest said:

Interesting project. Im curious how you were able to identify this body to be pre 1916 and if that dating would stand if it was questioned by  HCCA ? Thank you, Mike

Mike,

 

I actually think this is 1912 or 1913.  See my post of the Willoughby body on the Cole above from 1911.  They used that through early 1913.  In late 1913 and 1914 the Cole limo with Willoughby body has a different style per the picture below.  Typically Willoughby would have a similar design for the small contract runs they did for automakers and would change them by some minor tweak.  For example on the 1912 Cole the two lines swoop up the back while on the chandler they go straight all the way around.  image.thumb.png.e2a62feebf1d892c1e0986ce4d588c54.png

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Where are you located in SC? I would like to discuss this with you, but saw no phone number in the ad? 

Norm Hutton 

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